[an error occurred while processing this directive] April/May 2007

BioLOG
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The blogs (that) I used to do

26 May 2007
Mmmm

17:43 Kate's been shopping:

05 May 2007
Paint it black

22:11 The hovercraft gathers speed, or shape, at least.

28 Apr 2007
It Lives!

19:02 Watch out Australia. Mwah hah hah.

11 Apr 2007
It's not what you do, it's getting away with it

22:16One of the strange things about Australia is that Post Offices ask for ID before they'll accept a parcel for posting. I find this a little strange; it's hardly likely to stop anyone sending a bomb ("I'll just steal your wallet with all those bank cards, thank you very much, and then send my bomb") and if there's a problem with a package then the sensible, bona fide poster has put their return address on the package. Which is going to be of much more use than bank account details (for example) on an Australia Post computer, somewhere in the boonies.

I object handing over ID on principle (getting through the security cordon at work and previous days of legitimately wanting to access controlled military installations notwithstanding), but the muppets at the PO don't care about civil liberties or even common sense, and sometimes it is necessary to send a parcel bomb through the post.

We have the answer.

In their wisdom, Australia Post will accept a UK driving licence as ID. We have not lived at the address that is on our driving licences for over a year now — and the DVLA are happy that we do not tell them a current residential address while we are ex-pat (check their website, if you don't believe me). And our mail-forwarding for our last mail address in the UK has expired. Therefore I can hand over my UK driving licence, secure in the knowledge that (secret services apart) there is no legal way Australia Post can trace me. It is the ideal fake ID.

Just thinking about this probably makes me a terrorist.

Talking of which, I shall now relate a story I promised to tell CK but didn't get around to at the weekend.

Back in, oh, 1997, I went to the Fairford International Air Tatoo at RAF, um, Fairford in deepest Gloucestershire, with my friend Geoff. We parked his Volvo ('Harvey') some way away from the show, and walked across a few fields to avoid the horrendous traffic queues along the Lechlade and Whelsford roads. It was a steamingly hot July day, and we had a great time. The B2 Spirit landed on English soil for the first time ever, at least publicly. There was lots of noise and smoke, a Tiger Meet, an F4 Phantom (of which there is one on the pan on Google Earth as I type. Cool), and did I mention the noise and smell of burnt JP8? Towards the end of the day, waiting for the Red Arrows to appear, we wandered around the statics.

And here we found a B52, surrounded by a guard wire. The B52 is a large aeroplane, with eight engines and wide, flappy wings. Both wingtips have outrigger wheels to prevent the wingtips from slamming into the ground during taxiing, landing or take-off. The wings are that wide and flappy. Importantly, the wingtips protruded over the guard wire, and on one wing the outrigger wheel was a good couple of feet off the ground, on the public side of the fence.

The USAF guards/RAF snowdrops were a little way off, so I said to Geoff, "Watch this," and reached up to the wingtip. I grabbed hold of it, and pulled it down. Then I pushed it, and pulled it down again. On the next push up the entire wing had started to flap, like it was the wing of some giant predatory bird. At this point, Geoff grabbed my shoulder, said "Stop that!" in a somewhat startled and frightened voice and started walking briskly away. "Like I'm going to break it?" I wondered, but followed him at a half trot. When I caught up we slowed a bit: First rule of doing something slightly risky is 'never run way; it only draws attention'.

And that is how I started terrorizing the USAF.

Postscript. I was checking my memory of the date, and came across this website. Interestingly, the author went both days (Geoff and I only managed the Saturday), and has this to say (my emphasis):

So everyone starts milling around the B-1 and B-52, with the crews chatting to everyone, pointing out things of interest and generally having a perfectly good time. And then the RAF police arrive, consider that having members of the public wandering around the B-52 isn't a good idea, and so take up position under each wing where they can politely tell us all to keep back. Not sure why they thought the B-52 needed their protection when they weren't the slightest bit concerned about the B-1, but obviously they had their orders from someone...

Ahem.

08 Apr 2007
Activation energy

13:16 Happy Easter. Hopefully service approaching 'normal' will be resumed shortly. This'll help:

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